HC Deb 25 July 1938 vol 338 cc2702-3
57. Mr. De Chair

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any of the agricultural stations or farms belonging to His Majesty's Government have realised a net profit since 1931 in those branches of their activities which operate under normal competitive conditions; and whether their accounts are published?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

Apart from certain farming operations conducted at the National Stud, Tully, which are subsidiary to the main undertaking and in respect of which separate figures are not available, the only farming operations conducted by my Department since 1931 have been those at the Amesbury Farm Settlement under the Small Holding Colonies Acts, 1916–18. These operations ceased at Michaelmas, 1934. During the intervening period the farm trading and profit and loss accounts showed annual losses; these accounts were published in the annual volumes of Trading Accounts and Balance Sheets issued by the Stationery Office as command papers.

Mr. De Chair

Would it not be a good thing for the Government to purchase one or two farms and run them under normal conditions?

Mr. Morrison

We have a good deal of information without adopting that suggestion.

Mr. De Chair

Is that information quite as accurate as information which affects one's own pocket?

Mr. T. Williams

Has not the right hon. Gentleman full authority under the Land Acquisition Act, 1931, to buy large demonstration farms? Does he not think he should do this for the benefit of the State?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware that there are many powers under the Agricultural Land Utilisation Act, 1931, which His Majesty's Government have not thought proper to exercise. In regard to the question of costings, we have useful research work going on into that matter at the moment, and it is not, therefore, necessary to purchase farms in order to obtain information.

Mr. Davidson

Would the right hon. Gentleman come to Glasgow and see what a Socialist majority can do with farms?